SCOTT SIMON, host:
Some 40,000 video game enthusiasts are expected to bring their twitchy fingers to the Los Angeles Convention Center next week for the annual E3 video game trade show. They may be called games, but this industry is serious business, $22 billion in sales last year.
We're joined now from member station KQED in San Francisco for a preview of this year's event by Dean Takahashi, who writes about all things digital for Venture Beat.
Thanks very much for being with us.
Mr. DEAN TAKAHASHI (Venture Beat Magazine): Thank you for having me on the show.
SIMON: First, how are video games doing in this recession?
Mr. TAKAHASHI: They've done very well. In fact, all of last year, video games in North America grew 22 percent. In the last two months, however, they have sunk somewhat, and so the growth rate for this year is pretty flat. But that's almost more an accident because about this time a year ago Grand Theft Auto IV came out and broke all the records for the game industry.
SIMON: That begs this question, of course: Grand Theft Auto and some other games are very controversial because of their violent content. Some states have tried to regulate sales to young people. What's the latest on this?
Mr. TAKAHASHI: The State of California is appealing a decision that it lost in trying to regulate the sale of Mature-rated games. And the industry won on the grounds of First Amendment, and Arnold Schwarzenegger has not given up. He's appealing this to the U.S. Supreme Court.
SIMON: What are some of the issues that people in the video gaming industry see coming up?
Mr. TAKAHASHI: One of the things that they're going to be talking about at the show is motion sensor game controllers, where they use 3D cameras to figure out your position very accurately. And just like the Nintendo Wii and its motion-sensing controller, you can actually control a game through your movements and not really entering anything into a controller or a keyboard or anything like that.
SIMON: Any game you want to tell us about?
Mr. TAKAHASHI: There's a game that's based on a James Cameron movie that's coming out in the fall, "Avatar." And that's expected to get a lot of buzz. It's going to probably be shown for the first time at the show. There is fun stuff coming. There's EA Sports Active has an exercise game, where you use the Wii controller and you try to get as fit as possible. And it picks up on the very popular Wii Fit game that Nintendo sold that sold more than 10 million units. Exercise is one of the new crazes. Daisy Fuentes has a Pilates game that's coming from Sega as well.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: I find that very appealing.
Mr. TAKAHASHI: And it gets a very different crowd in front of the video game system as well.
SIMON: Yeah, not 13-year-old...
Mr. TAKAHASHI: Yeah, that's one of the stories of this expansion of the industry, is that it's broadening to women, young girls. And that's what's really helped it overcome the recession so far.
SIMON: Thanks so much, Mr. Takahashi.
Mr. TAKAHASHI: Mm-hmm. Thank you.
SIMON: Dean Takahashi writes about video games for Venture Beat.
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